Cambridge Film Festival 2011

We went to the 2011 Cambridge Film Festival and here's what happened...

This year we again had the pleasure of attending the Cambridge Film Festival. Now in it’s 31st run, the Festival is a well-established hub of upcoming big hitters, foreign finds and must-see movies. If you missed our 2010 trip, click here.


Day One

After being told that all screenings for Tinker, Tailor had sold out we were a bit downhearted. Thankfully news reached us of a special screening and off we went…

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – Preview Screening
After being promised the screening would be a relatively low key affair, the cinema was relatively full for a little known about screening. Being applauded as the credits rolled, Tinker, Tailor lived up to expectations for many. Rumours abounded that stars Gary Oldman and John Hurt would be in attendance alongside director Tomas Alfredson later in the day and the excitement mounted.

Read our Tinker, Tailor review here.
One sentence review: A 70’s tale of espionage and mistrust, Tinker, Tailor oozes coolness and suspense in equal measure.
Rating: A strong 7/10.

The Lion King 3D – UK Premiere
After a lazy afternoon that involved discussions on whether the Oscars are really relevant (have your say on Twitter @MooVFarm), it was time to see The Lion King. One of our favourite Disney films EVER, getting the chance to see it on the big screen again was enough to make our heart flutter. It may have only been introduced by a couple of people in silly Lion King masks, but The Lion King was a thunderous success, much as it was back in 1994. Our two favourite bits? A child asking ‘what happens next?’ after the first song and a united gasp of horror after a momentary projection blip mid-movie. There’s a reason why it’s the best selling hand drawn animated feature of all time and it’s already taking the U.S. by storm.

We also had to refrain ourselves from singing along which is always a sign of enjoyment!

Review coming soon!
One sentence review: The safari takes on Hamlet with musical consequences.
Rating: 10/10

Star Spot #1 and #2
After The Lion King ended we found ourselves loitering in the foyer thanks to rumours that Gary Oldman and John Hurt may appear. Several minutes of crossed fingers paid off and we met the pair who were sincere and very nice. Note dodgy picture of John Hurt prior to said meeting.

Day Two

Mademoiselle Chambon
We arrived to watch our third film of the festival knowing relatively little about it except that it was French (duh). We were greeted with an unassuming movie that explored a chance meeting between a school kid’s father and his teacher. An unexpected relationship blossoms between the pair, a bond that is only truly dealt with in the dying moments of the film.

Review coming soon!
One sentence review: A slow-moving exploration of lust and the everyday.
Rating: 5/10

To continue our French theme we attended a screening of Tomboy shortly after Mademoiselle Chambon. Unexpectedly powerful, Tomboy tackles lots of social issues without directly commenting on them. Sexual identity is the focus but is cushioned by powerful performances and strong themes.

Read our review here!
One sentence review: Zoé Herán excels as Mikael, the titular Tomboy who fools the entire neighbourhood before her mother forces her to confess.
Rating: 7/10

Eleanore and The Timekeeper – inc. short film Our Ordered Lives and Q and A with director
Our Ordered Lives, the short film that preceded Eleanore and The Timekeeper was not, as they say, a lot of laughs. Beautifully shot with a Red camera the ten minute film follows a daughter forced to help her mother die. We watch as, in a series of flashbacks she remembers the euthanasia whilst wandering through marshlands carrying the murder weapon – a pillow steadily leaking feathers into the wind. The Q and A provided interesting insight into an otherwise bleak film.

Eleanore and the Timekeeper is a documentary that follows 91 year-old Eleanore as she is forced to put her 64 year old son into care. Failing to capture the true heart of the story the documentary relies on little structure and prolonged shots of innocuous objects to hammer its message home. For us the effect of these combined elements failed to impress but the message was powerful nonetheless.

Review coming soon!
One sentence review: Spending too much time on the inconsequentials, Eleanore and the Timekeeper falls just short of being a powerful documentary.
Rating: 4/10

Day Three

We returned bright-eyed and bushy tailed (hey, we’re a farm!) two days later. The excitement from Day One had returned, with Bronson director Nicolas Winding Refn giving a Q and A later that day. Having started the day by swearing on BBC Breakfast news, Winding Refn was the man to catch.

The Poll Diaries
German true story The Poll Diaries was an impressively beautiful two hour film that explores the reality of mortality as well as the harsh truth behind the eugenics movement. Set just before the WWI the film follows Oda as she nurses an Estonian Anarchist back to health.

Review coming soon!
One sentence review: Bleak but mesmerising, The Poll Diaries plumbs a rarely discussed topic.
Rating: 7/10

During the intermission between films we managed to obtain a press pass and a ticket for Drive which leads us to…

Drive – inc. Q and A with Nicolas Winding Refn
Drive was possibly the best new film we saw during our time at the festival. Mixing hard-hitting gore with moments of true tenderness the film relies on Ryan Gosling’s nigh-mute and un-named Driver to carry the film. He does so with ease and brilliance. With support from Bryan Cranston and Carey Mulligan, Drive is easily a must-see.

Nicolas Winding Refn gave copious well-crafted tongue-in-cheek answers to the questions the audience posed him. Citing Pretty Woman as his main reference point for the movie, as well as admitting to having a ‘telekinetic relationship’ with Ryan Gosling, the director bought laughs and answers to the cinema. Viewing a movie as much as a piece of music as it is a, well, movie, he described how when Irene needs the Driver ‘to be a hero he destroys everything around them’. When we asked, rather jokingly, whether Gosling did his own stunts Winding Refn detailed how Gosling wanted to get involved as possible and,thanks to the wide-angled shots employed by the director, had to. All this from a man who has no interest in cars.

Oh and for those who don’t believe he and Gosling are connected? An audience member asked if Winding Refn could tell us what Gosling was thinking at that very moment and he replied that he was thinking about how he didn’t want to go to work. Proof enough, we think?

Read our review here!
One sentence review: Drive is an instant classic; beautifully shot, brilliantly acted and superbly directed.
Rating: 9/10

Star Spot #3
As well as posing the director a question in the session after the film we managed to catch him afterwards. Our favourite soundbite? Us: ‘We really enjoyed the film’, Winding Refn: ‘WOW!’ (Yes he really sounded that enthusiastic.)

The Woman
We ended our time at the festival with The Woman. Not just any woman, THE woman who would apparently scare us silly. We were warned prior to entering about the film’s content but left feeling like there was something missing from the film. Supposedly a horror about a feral woman the main scares in The Woman stem from the casual domestic violence carried out by the father figure and his son. The rape scene is more unnerving than seeing the woman bite the father’s finger off but the film is worth a watch for the inevitable revenge-filled finalé.

Review coming soon!
One sentence review: Odd and macabre, The Woman tries to cover a lot of ground and in doing so falls flat.
Rating: 5/10

The festival runs 15th-25th September so be sure to catch a film there if possible! To round off our time at the festival we present you with…

Our top 3 movie songs from the festival…
Para One – Always (Tomboy)

College ft. Electric Youth – A Real Hero (Drive)

I Just Can’t Wait To Be King – The Lion King

See you next year, Cambridge Film Festival!

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